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YOU’RE NOT LISTENING
This book is about, duh, listening—why you should do it and how you can do it better. Don’t be put off by the somewhat self-aggrandizing intro. (Author Kate Murphy mentions that she writes for The New York Times no fewer than four times in the first two pages, ugh). But this little book actually does have some interesting points to share.
After the intro, the book is divided into 16 sections, each one covering either advice on how to listen better or information on some specific aspect of listening. Here’s my takeaway from each section:
- Chapter 1—Murphy expresses the slightly dramatic and pessimistic opinion that communication has drastically changed for the worse over the years and that we basically aren’t listening to each other at all anymore.
- Chapter 2—When you’re listening to someone well, your mind will actually sync with the other person’s mind.
- Chapter 3—Stay curious. If you have a curious mindset, you’ll genuinely want to stay open and listen to others.
- Chapter 4—Don’t make assumptions about people.
- Chapter 5—Be aware of the other person’s body language and vocal tone so you can ask the right questions.
- Chapter 6—Be present. Acknowledge distraction and then refocus on what the other person is saying.
- Chapter 7—Remain open, even when you disagree with someone. Try to listen without anxiety when you encounter beliefs that are contrary to yours.
- Chapter 8—Focus on what’s really important, even if it means digging deeper for real meaning and understanding.
- Chapter 9—Listen fully, all the way up until a person stops speaking. Think about how to respond when the other person has finished speaking.
- Chapter 10—Practice conversational sensitivity, which is when you pick up hidden meanings and nuances in tone.
- Chapter 11—Listen to your inner voice. Follow your gut.
- Chapter 12—Support the conversation, don’t shift it. Ask questions to elicit more info. Even avoid saying things like, “The same thing happened to me!” thereby putting the focus on yourself. Let the other person fully say what he needs to say. (This was one of my favorite sections.)
- Chapter 13—This section covered the actual physical process of listening.
- Chapter 14—Acknowledge that we are addicted to distraction.
- Chapter 15—Be okay with silence.
- Chapter 16—Gossip actually helps develop and deepen relationships, so long as it isn’t malicious.
- Chapter 17—It’s okay to decide to stop listening. Just do it carefully and with kindness.
The longing to understand and be understood is one of the universal feelings experienced by every human. Listening well goes a long way toward helping us connect with others and feel at home in the world around us.
Thank you Celadon Books for the ARC!